Ice Cube "Bullets" Help Prevent Grain Bin Deaths
Don Perrion is saddened every time he hears about a grain bin death when workers go into a bin to dislodge bridged grain. He believes his Grain Worker Life Saver is a device that any farmer can put together. He came up with the idea in 1962 and used it successfully when he farmed in Ipswich, S. Dak.
The Life Saver uses compressed air and ice cube "bullets" to dislodge grain from outside the bin.
"I blast ice cubes from the outside or the top," Perrion says. He has a trailer with a 12 hp gas engine and 30 cu. ft./min. air compressor with 100 ft. of hose that connects to a 5-gal. tank with a 2-in. valve. It's the type of tank used to seat beads on tubeless tires that releases a 140-lb. blast of air. That?s enough air to propel an ice cube 600 ft. or knock a couple feet of caked grain off a bin wall.
"Start 2 or 3 ft. down from the top and work your way down. You don?t want the whole works to bury the sweep," Perrion explains.
The barrel that connects to the tank valve is a 2-in. dia., 4-ft. long steel exhaust pipe. Perrion makes ice cubes in 3-oz. paper cups, tears the paper off and drops one or two at a time into the pipe.
"It's an insignificant amount of water that doesn't contaminate the grain. It just gets absorbed," Perrion notes.
For taller bins, 8-ft. pipe extensions can be added with cam lock couplings. If the walk-in door isn't accessible, Perrion uses his Life Saver from the top of the bin. He slips in an ice cube and holds it in place with a paper straw slipped through a 1/4-in. hole drilled through the pipe.
Perrion, who's in the grain cleaning business, has put together Life Savers for a few farmers, but isn?t interested in doing it commercially. He provides instructions on how to make them to anyone interested, and he gives demonstrations locally. With farmers owning most of the parts, the cost can be $200 or less to buy the tank and valve.
"My idea is to save lives," he says. "It would please the heck out of me if everyone had one of these in their shop."